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Jan 31, 2019

Blackstone's profit falls 40% as market slump hurts holdings

Blackstone's Schwarzman Says U.S. Slowing, But No Recession in 2019

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Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) saw its profit drop 40 per cent as the stock market rout last quarter dented the performance of its investments.

Key Insights

- This quarter Blackstone announced it’s joining KKR & Co. and Carlyle Group LP in switching to distributable earnings from economic net income as the key profit metric. It reflects cash profits on asset sales and fund management fees and doesn’t include mark-to-market valuations, a feature of ENI. The change, beginning with fourth-quarter results for Blackstone and Carlyle, will help make earnings less volatile, said Devin Ryan, an analyst at JMP Securities. “These companies are looking for different ways to help their valuation,” he said. “Let’s see if this helps.”

- Steve Schwarzman’s bedrock private equity business declined 2.9 per cent in value, according to a Blackstone statement Thursday. During a quarter that saw the S&P 500 Index sink the most in seven years, Blackstone’s losers included Invitation Homes Inc. and Gates Industrial Corp.

- Blackstone, the world’s biggest alternative asset manager, benefited from the steady stream of investors seeking the returns of longer-term strategies. It had inflows of US$38.6 billion in the quarter while raising money for its eighth buyout fund and its largest real estate pool. For the year, New York-based Blackstone brought in US$101 billion, shy of its 2017 record.

Digging Deeper

- Blackstone’s distributable earnings fell to US$722 million, 57 cents a share, from US$1.2 billion, or US$1, in the year-ago quarter.

- Assets under management rose to US$472.2 billion from US$456.7 billion in the third quarter.

- Dry powder, or undeployed capital, rose to US$112.9 billion from US$95 billion last period. The firm also reported that it held a US$3.4 billion initial close in the quarter on its eighth Strategic Partners secondaries fund.

Market Reaction

- Shares of Blackstone have fallen about 1.3 per cent, with reinvested dividends, in the past year through Wednesday, less than its major rivals and the S&P 500 Index.

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